[Medical cannabis: the opportunity versus the temptation]
The cannabis plant has been known to humanity for centuries as a remedy for pain, diarrhea, and inflammation. Current research has shown cannabis to be a useful remedy for many diseases, including multiple sclerosis, dystonia, and chronic pain. Cannabinoids are used to improve food intake in anorexia of AIDS patients and to prevent vomiting due to cancer chemotherapy. In inflammatory conditions cannabinoids improve pain in rheumatoid arthritis and pain and diarrhea in Crohn’s disease. Cannabinoids reduce the size of brain infarct and cardiac reperfusion injury. However, cannabinoid treatment is not free of side effects including euphoria, psychosis, anxiety, paranoia, dependence and abuse. Since the cannabinoid system is involved in many physiological and pathological processes, the therapeutic potential is great. We must not be blind to the opportunity offered to us by medical cannabis just because it is an illicit drug, nor should we be temped by the quick response of patients to the central effect of cannabis. More research is warranted to explore the full potential of cannabis as medicine.